With the Force Awakens coming out this week (My whole life has led up to this moment), I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the entire saga. This is a list that sums up my thoughts on every single Star Wars live action film, and puts them in order from the worst to the best. Keep in mind these are my own opinions, but I would not be surprised if many others shared my perspective.
6. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This was probably the hardest one to choose because Episode I and Episode II are both pretty mediocre. However, I am giving the “Worst Star Wars Film” title to Episode I. This film had some solid moments, but too many of them were lackluster. First of all, the light saber battles in this film are fairly good. They may be a bit too choreographed, but they still remain visually thrilling. I also love Palpetine in this film. He lurks on the sidelines, but his rise to power was handled fairly well. The music and sound effects are predictably stellar, and some of the effects are also pretty good and still hold up. On the flip-side, some of the effects are flat out terrible. Lucas really went overboard with loading as many effects as possible. Jar Jar sucks of course, and all of the acting is remarkably dull. I contend that Obi-Wan is the best part of the prequels, but he did not show it in this one. He was still figuring out how to bring Lucas’s lifeless writing to life. The plot and writing are also quite terrible, and I particularly hate how Anakin was handled. Lucas tried to make him into a Jesus-like character, but completely failed. However while I acknowledge all the flaws with the film, this is not a terrible film. It is bad, but it holds a special part in my heart. I saw this film when I was 4 and loved it, because this film was geared towards children. Even though the flaws became evident as I got older, I still recognize the positive aspects of the film.
5. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Say what you will about Episode II, but it could have been great. I recently re-watched it after not seeing it for nearly 6 years, and I saw glimpses of greatness. The biggest flaw with these films is the writing. Lucas simply lost touch with writing realistic dialogue, and it really shows in this film. However, before delving into the negatives, there are some positives. First of all, Ewan McGregor is awesome as Obi-Wan this time around. He brings the character to life, and is responsible for some of the film’s best scenes. The plot is not completely terrible, and I like what Lucas tried to do with Anakin. The execution may not have worked, but there was something compelling hidden underneath. Yoda also shows how much of a badass he is, and finally Palpetine is up to his usual sinister nonsense which made from some great scenes. Also, the music and sound effects are top notch as with every film (I probably will stop commending them because they were always fantastic). As far as the bad, somehow the effects have gotten worse since the first film. The dialogue is lackluster, similar to the first episode, but what really brings down the film is the romance between Padame and Anakin. Their romance is completely forced, and both Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman did not do well in their roles. Another major problem with the film is the humor. The humor is aimed mainly at children and comes across as juvenile. The lightsaber battles are worse this time around as well, and even though I find the battle between Yoda and Dooku to be entertaining, I do not want to watch two CGI characters battling it out. At least Jar Jar was barely in it, but he still helped bring the film down by being in it at all.
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
By far the best prequel, and an overall solid film. The acting is much improved this time around, and there is plenty of spectacle to behold. I like almost all of the lightsaber battles in this film (aside for one, but more on that later) especially the final one between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It had some goofy moments, but I felt the emotion in that duel. Hayden Christensen also had some notable scenes which showed that he is not the terrible actor most people think he is. The effects are fairly solid as well, and of course Palpetine does what he does best. The only complaints I have with this one is that the writing is very poor in some sections, and there are moments that really do not make much sense. Also, Vader screaming “NOOOOOOO” is probably one of the worst parts of the prequels. With all that said, it is still a solid film that I enjoy watching.
3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Simply put, this film is very entertaining. There are also some great emotional moments, especially between Vader and Luke. They had a memorable duel at the end of the film as well, which is one of my favorite lightsaber battles. The battle of Endor, and the battle in space were both exciting, but perhaps a little too familiar to Episode IV. The problems with this particular film is that it retreads some plot points from the first Star Wars film, and introduces the goofy elements that overtake the prequels. I also hate how Boba Fett was handled. He is such an interesting character, it was a shame that he fell to the sarlacc pit. Overall, this is a good Star Wars film but it does not hold up to the standard of the original first two.
2. Star Wars
I am going to call this by its original name: Star Wars. At the time it was not called “A New Hope” and when I used to watch it on my VCR, I would constantly see the original title. I love this film, almost everything about it is amazing. The effects really hold up, the world is invigorating, and the characters are compelling. The plot is fairly basic, but it allows the audience to be immersed into this world. I do find Luke a little bit annoying, but with his age it makes sense. He certainly shows significant growth throughout the film. I love Han, and his introduction, and of course the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi. I love how the film begins, and think it ends in spectacular fashion. Vader is good in the film, but to me, he does not shine until Episode V.
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This will probably always be the best, and my favorite Star Wars film. I do not have any problems with this film. From start to finish it grabs hold of the audience and never let goes. Luke is more mature this time around, and I love the personal journey he goes on. I love his scenes with Yoda, and of course I love his confrontation with Vader. This time around Vader is given a bigger role, and every time he is on screen I am completely fixed on him. The lightsaber battle between father and son is probably my favorite because it is such a thrilling and revealing sequence. It may not be quite as emotional as Return of the Jedi’s sequence, but I was more invested in this battle. Han and Leia make progress as a couple, which I think feels very natural. This is the one relationship that Star Wars absolutely nailed (romantic relationship that is). This film has too many memorable moments to count, and it will always hold up as one of the best films ever made.
That is my list, I hope you enjoyed it. My review for The Force Awakens will come out Saturday. I hope it is as good as I think it will be, and may the force be with you. Always.